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REVIEW: Hareton Hall by Lynne Connolly

Dear. Ms Connelly,

At this point, I think writing a review in this series would be hard to do and still manage to avoid spoilers so, though I’m going to try, I can’t guarantee anything. In “Hareton Hall,” you have Richard and Rose plus their daughter Helen and Richard’s brother Gervase, journey to Rose’s childhood home in Devonshire, all done up now, to witness two marriages. But by the time it’s all said and done, the smugglers from book two will make another appearance, a frightening disease will strike down a beautiful young woman and someone from Richard’s past will begin a plan of revenge.

Hareton Hall by Lynne ConnollyThough there are still things I enjoy about this series, I’m beginning to wonder if it hasn’t gone stale for me. The care you take with getting the historical details correct is a joy to me. Imagining Rose’s gorgeous new clothes and sumptuous jewelry is great fun. Reading about men who positively delighted in wearing lavender evening coats, powdered wigs and smallswords makes me swoon. And I’d love to witness some of Richard’s practiced, polished public moves: taking snuff, disposing of the skirts of his coat or making a magnificent leg to the lady of his choice.

It’s nice to see Rose’s family again and watch them settling into their newly redesigned old home place now made grand for James’s new Earldom. I see that it hasn’t changed his wife Martha’s practical nature nor her concern to be sure Rose is truly happy in her grand society marriage. I also like that Rose hasn’t forgotten those who were kind to her while she was growing up or that she’s not above a bit of Ladying it over those who snubbed her. She’s only human after all.

But there are some issues in the story and with the characters that didn’t work for me. The biggest is the way in which Richard deals with, or rather doesn’t deal with, the villain. I can see why Richard wouldn’t want to hand him over to the authorities but this is someone who threatened Rose – on more than one occasion, was willing to use germ warfare – which has affected the life of another young woman for life and which could easily have spread far wider, and who obviously isn’t going to reform. Just saying that he’ll have the person watched until that person’s inevitable downfall doesn’t cut it.

Since there is so little conflict between Richard and Rose, it all must come from others and frankly the whole smuggling subplot got boring. When I had finished the book and began thinking back, it hit me that it all just seemed to go on endlessly and meant nothing to me. The bit about their old enemies the Drurys also basically went nowhere until suddenly Stephen gets hauled front and center for a short act then dropped just as quickly. I also wanted to see a bit more about Lizzie and her fantastic wedding only to end up getting very little of this.

The Kerres have seen Richard’s love for Rose and now her family gets a taste of it. Rose has had her chance to do the “Lady Strang” thing in Exeter so I would hope that this will lessen in scope for any future novels. As well, despite the fact that Richard is *so* private about his feelings for Rose, he’s let them show so damn much that the whole country ought to know of them by now. Just get them the matching tattoos done and T-shirts to wear and drop this.

But my major disappointment with this book is the romance I’ve been awaiting for Gervase. Finally, finally Richard’s brother finds true love. After suffering heartache as a young man, then self banishing himself to India after which he returned and watched his twin find love with Rose, Gervase has been one I’ve wanted to see get his own HEA. I had an idea of who might turn out to be his love interest and wasn’t wrong. Yet, you don’t show him falling in love. Gervase simply confesses to Rose whom he loves and Rose finds out that the love is reciprocated and, ta-da! it’s over. Wha…t Where’s the suspense? Where’s the conflict? Nowhere and I felt cheated to have waited 5 books for this.

I’m not even sure that you plan further adventures for Richard and Rose though the ending of this one sort of leads me to believe there will be more books. After all there’re villains to deal with and one pissy younger sister of Rose’s to sort out plus an heir for Rose to produce. I just hope that Rose makes some more progress in becoming the grand lady and that I don’t have to read too much more about Richard’s public displays of his private feelings. C

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

11 Comments

  1. Brian
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 08:41:53

    I might give it a little higher than a C, but didn’t like this one as much as the earlier books either.

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  2. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 10:36:49

    Thanks for the review!
    Two more books to go. It was always slated to finish at a certain event, and it will do that. I’ve written one and sent it in, and I have one more to write, but it’s planned out.
    As for handing the perp over to the authorities – if he’d done that, the repercussions for Rose would have been bad, with all the backstory dragged out for the public. Rose rules his life and always comes first. I should have made that clearer, I guess. Richard is watching him very, very closely. He knows he’s been a bit soft in his treatment, and it could come back to bite him – or it could be the making of him!
    The m/m love story – I first wrote this book five years ago, but I guess in the revisions I should have made more of the love story. At the time, I was told not to, because it wasn’t done to mix an m/f romance with an m/m one, even a sweet one. There are things Rose couldn’t have witnessed at the time, as it would have made her a witness, at a time when ‘sodomy’ was punishable by death (and it was carried out). Gervase’s political career makes it difficult. Maybe I made the signs too subtle! But I really wanted to make it true to the period, so I went by innuendo and subtle hint, rather than a blatant display. You can see them falling in love if you go back and look for it. If I’d written it third person, I might have had more leeway.
    This whole series has been a wonderful learning experience for me, and I’ve been thrilled with the responses I’ve had. Originally there was to have been one more book, but like you, I thought that would be stretching things.
    So this arc ends in two books’ time. There might be another, but they are hard to write, and I need a break.
    However, I’ve had numerous requests to write Freddy’s story, and I might well do that, but as a third person single title that can be read on its own.
    Appreciate the review, though!

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  3. Eva-Baby
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 11:08:52

    Gack! This is out? Where have I been??? Why didn’t I know? I am in love with R&R, this is the reason why I love my e-reader. I just read this review and bam! got the book on my kindle. Oooh, and I notice there is short story that is a companion to the book that features Barbara and Tom’s wedding. Nice.

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  4. Vi
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 13:56:48

    @ Lynne I hope you do write Freddy’s story! I love reading this series and following the progression of their marriage.

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  5. ShellBell
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 16:47:56

    I’ve only recently started reading Lynne Connolly’s books and have thoroughly enjoyed everything I have read. I did enjoy Hareton Hall, but not as much as the earlier books in the series. I think that was more due to Richad and Rose overload. I read the 6 books in the series too close together – I was enjoying them too much to want to have a break between them. I know from past experience that it is really not a good idea. I’m glad that there is going to be more in this series, even though there are only 2 more to go. Count me in as another who would love for Freddy to have his own happy ending!

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  6. Estara
    Aug 26, 2010 @ 06:53:38

    I have to agree that I thought Richard was too lenient on the baddie and there was too much emphasis on “Richard is so private, but he shows off his emotions for me” – at this point in their marriage I expect them to change somewhat anyway – so it would simply make more sense to me if the reason for his being so clearly in love with her is that he no longer cares that other people see his emotions regarding her. That he has grown comfortable with it.

    I liked Rose’s continuing development into a grand dame, and the heartbreaking disease amidst the introduction of her former best friend’s courtship and marriage (which was the most romantic bit for me). I also continue to enjoy Richard and Rose’s interplay.

    I agree that we didn’t seem to need the Drurys in this book, the smuggling sub-plot would have been enough.

    And I was MAJORLY annoyed when Rose got herself caught by the villain at the end even though having been warned by Richard not to go out without guards.

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  7. Jayne
    Aug 26, 2010 @ 09:34:04

    @Eva-Baby: “Oooh, and I notice there is short story that is a companion to the book that features Barbara and Tom's wedding. Nice.”

    Really? Is this a separate piece from “Hareton Hall?” Must go look for it.

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  8. Jayne
    Aug 26, 2010 @ 09:37:03

    @ShellBell: Yes, it’s easy to overload on R&R since they’re fascinating to read about and the historical detail is so nicely done. And this might have lowered my grade a tad as I had just read book 5 not too long ago.

    And count me in as another who’d like to see Freddy find that perfect someone to make his life complete.

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  9. Jayne
    Aug 26, 2010 @ 09:39:44

    @Estara: “And I was MAJORLY annoyed when Rose got herself caught by the villain at the end even though having been warned by Richard not to go out without guards.”

    So was I. But at least Rose was instrumental in engineering her own rescue. I see some of that coming from her growing self confidence.

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  10. Jayne
    Aug 26, 2010 @ 09:45:07

    @Lynne Connolly: Hmmm, as long as Richard is ready to pounce at a moment’s notice…

    I did enjoy the image of R&R emerging from their carriage at the Exeter Assembly – sort of like modern day movie stars going up the red carpet at public events with flashbulbs going off and the press breathlessly waiting to see the latest fashions the two wore.

    But I’m afraid the m/m lovestory was just too subtle for me. I didn’t think Rose would come across them going at it like bunnies but there just seemed to be nothing there. Especially since Gervase’s love has never had another homosexual love affair. It just all seemed too easy.

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  11. Estara
    Aug 27, 2010 @ 13:39:40

    @Jayne:

    But at least Rose was instrumental in engineering her own rescue. I see some of that coming from her growing self confidence.

    That’s true, as well. I also agree with you on the lack of Gervase courtship storyline… maybe the Drurys could have been sacrificed for that ^^.

    ReplyReply

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